Sunday, November 13, 2005

"First Barefoot Runner"

Today was crazy. Wife on a business trip; no sitters that could come over on a Sunday morning. Got the kids over to Susan's house. Got to the race with less an hour to go to the start. I still had not even entered nor turned in any team forms. Roger was in a panic about getting our team entry turned in on time because I hadn't answered his email. He put some stuff on a sheet and I was told by the USATF people that he took them to the scoring van. The scoring van was a quarter mile from check in and parking. I could not find him there. Roger did not have all the information for our 40's teams. So I am running around, ready to race but barefoot and carrying my shoes, trying to track down our team entries. Finally found Roger, who had returned them to the USATF table. I filled them out and handed them in right on the deadline time.

I put myself on the B team because I felt really crazed and I didn't really need this race. Our teams did need a stronger B team than usual, to pick up some points on the MC Striders. So after the race started I started thinking about getting my shoes off. The roads seemed pretty smooth, and I thought it would be no problem. So after about 2 miles I pulled over and took them off. It took me longer to take them off than last time. The running went well, until we hit a stretch of really rough road. It was like primitive paving and there was a lot of tree litter. That mile slowed me down a lot, and wore some skin off my toes. So the last mile went a little slow too. I looked down and thought I saw blood. There was some grass next to the road so I was on and off that in the last mile. I think it cleaned up the blood. And after I finished, there was no bleeding. I am glad about that, because that would not have been good publicity for barefoot running. One of the finish line volunteers said, "First barefoot runner!" So I won that category, at least.

But my right big toe is tender and lost some skin. For this race, being barefoot definitely slowed me down. I ran 41 minutes. The guys I usually finish around were about 2 minutes faster. So the 4 miles I did barefoot lost me an average of about 30 seconds per mile.

A friend of mine pointed out to me that world class African barefoot runners might train barefoot, but still race in shoes on the road.

This race was more about fun for me, though. It was more about seeing if I could do it. I can still run a fast Cat II at Ashenfelter 8K. I will keep my shoes on for that one - at least during the race.


Scooter said...

From a foot health POV, what do you think of barefoot? Specifically, do you think that athlete's foot is less of a problem or about the same? Any other comments? Also, have you by chance tried Injinji's Toe Socks (the ones that look kind of like a glove for your foot).

Thinnmann said...

I have not tried the socks.

From a foot health POV, the athlete's foot is less of a problem for people who do some or all of their mileage barefoot. You don't have to take my word for it, there is now a massive amount of evidence that running barefoot strengthens the foot and makes the biomechanics of running more efficient. Running barefoot reduces the incidence of injury and sometimes even cures chronic injuries. Not only are the feet healthier, but everything from there on up gets healthier.

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